Dissecting Getting Published

When I first started on this journey, I was confident of only one thing: I would have a lot to learn.  Needless to say, I wasn’t wrong.  In fact, I was being too conservative in my estimation!  Self-publishing is a wonderful, scary thing.  I had, many years ago, discovered that the world of publishing had three routes to getting into print: finding a literary agent willing to take you on (along with your money) so that they might make a deal with a large publishing house, finding a small publishing house specialising in your favoured genre, or being suckered into “vanity publishing” (whereby your masterwork is printed and bound just as you’d wish, regardless of quality, errors or other blunders, and having the delightful task of hawking your published book to every bookshop you could get to, unless you wanted stacks of boxes of your book, unread by anybody).  The one beauty of this was the simplicity of it.  Today, things are nowhere near as simple.

Very recently, I had my first ever sale of  priced ebook!  It will sound silly but I was ecstatic and would have capered with joy if able.  The ebook is self-published through Smashwords.  They provide an excellent service, and I have no complaints. In fact, I consider myself immensely lucky to have found them first, before discovering the numerous alternatives.  In a very short space of time, I have learnt that the service sites differ widely (and wildly, at times).  They may shout about a “free service”, and provide just that, but the quality of that service is another matter.  On just one issue, I have found that Smashwords is unusual.  You can publish your ebook and offer it for free, in multiple formats that will serve the vast majority of eReaders.  Some others will allow you just one format, or perhaps more than one as long as the prospective reader is willing to pay membership fees.  Many will allow you to self-publish for free, but insist on you charging a minimum price for your ebook.  There are several other factors, too.

Apart from these “free service” sites, there are publishers clamouring for submissions, allegedly. Some of these are seemingly legitimate, though I can’t vouch for any.  They offer all that you could want, from editing, through proofreading to professional cover design.  Of course, it all comes at a price, which varies considerably between publishers.  Most of these are actually offering real, printed books.  Some, if not most, of these publishers don’t print a quantity, however.  They print on demand, when an order is received.  It’s a very sensible concept, in many ways.  The potential pitfalls, however, are that your book won’t appear on any book shop’s shelves, unless it’s second-hand, and just what happens if the company folds?  You could find yourself with a pile of orders (let’s be optimistic) and no way to fill them!  How so?  Well, you’ll find that, as is commonplace with all self-publishing, you take on an enormous burden – marketing!  You will lose a significant amount of writing time to publicise your book, creating promotions, giveaways, and various other devices to try to win an audience.  Of course, you could pay another company to do all that for you, or the publisher (really more of a printer than a publisher) may offer the service for a hike in their fees.

There is, of course, still the option of finding, satisfying, and paying a literary agent to do it all for you – at least as far as getting published is concerned.  And there are still traditional publishing houses, many of whom disguise themselves under the names of various less well known names.  You will, naturally, still find the same old obstacles to dealing direct with these big publishers.

Having a publishing option sorted, you may want to recheck the terms and conditions, and any royalties arrangement.  There are services out there where you will be expected to give them exclusive rights, which really isn’t a good idea.  The amount of royalties offered varies widely, too.  Be wary on this one!  A service that has only just started up and hasn’t yet gotten a proven record of success could offer a high royalty rate, but then you may not sell anything through them. You also have to beware of things like transaction fees ns other ways to minimise what you actually receive!  So, don’t sign over any rights and make sure that royalties are fair and that fees are minimal or non-existent.

Ah, the joys of self-publishing…

~ Steve

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About Steve

An author since the age of 13 years, writing again dominates my activities. My "Imagineer-ing" blog is my primary site. Also: Beginner knitter since November 2010. Favourite knitting techniques: cable and lace. Beginner cross stitcher. Beginner jewellery maker. With the promotion of self publication and all the other work that has been going on here, Dad decided around 2am this morning (22/11/2013) that it was time to begin his next adventure. He was seen off earlier the previous evening by myself, my brother, my sister in law, and my sister, as well as his wife (our mum), and an enigmatic being known only as A Lorraine. After this time of story telling, laughing, crying, joking and mickey taking, we saw how tired both mum and dad were, and we decided to leave them under the (sometimes) gentle care of The Lorraine. When Dad found the timetable for his travels, he let Mum know gently, which woke her from her drowsing, then, with the same gentleness he showed in this universe, he boarded his favourite mode of transport, the Interdimensional Steam Train, and set off with a smile and a wave. For those of us closest, that smile was a reminder that his pain has ended, and the wave, an indicator that he will pop in to all those that knew him, from time to time. Usually at the most inconvenient and in opportune moments he can. While we are sad that he is no longer here, we are happy he now has no pain, and is experiencing more extraordinary things that his writers mind will be frantically weaving into a new story. Posted by Son Damien

3 thoughts on “Dissecting Getting Published

  1. Pingback: Dissecting Getting Published | Imagineer-ing | Hey Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite!

  2. Much of what you wrote is accurate, but as a former editor for a traditional publisher, I’d like to a finer point on several things you mentioned:
    1. “There is, of course, still the option of finding, satisfying, and paying a literary agent to do it all for you – at least as far as getting published is concerned.” My response: never, ever, EVER pay a “literary agent” to get you published. Legitimate agents earn a percentage of the work they place, NOT from charging authors for placement. Please read the Preditors and Editors website (http://pred-ed.com/pubagent.htm) for more on this.
    2. “And there are still traditional publishing houses, many of whom disguise themselves under the names of various less well known names. You will, naturally, still find the same old obstacles to dealing direct with these big publishers.” My response: many of these “disguised” names are imprints under the umbrella of a larger house–for example, HachetteBookGroup (one of the “big six”) has imprints you might not recognize, such as Faith Words, Center Street, and Orbit. They are all legitimate traditional imprints.
    3. “Well, you’ll find that, as is commonplace with all self-publishing, you take on an enormous burden – marketing! You will lose a significant amount of writing time to publicise your book, creating promotions, giveaways, and various other devices to try to win an audience.” My response: It’s a not-very-well-kept secret that in today’s publishing world, authors are expected to do the lion share of marketing. One of the main reasons I rejected manuscripts as an editor was because the author didn’t have much of a platform. This is a real problem for first-time authors, and is one of the reasons why so many bloggers are out here trying to build platforms.”
    4. “So, don’t sign over any rights and make sure that royalties are fair and that fees are minimal or non-existent.” My response: great advice–if you have a literary agent, negotiating rights and fees is part of his/her job. If you are self-publishing, consult an attorney who deals with publishing contracts.

    The worlds of traditional and indy publishing are changing rapidly, as we all know. It’s important to educate yourself as an author, which is one of the reasons why I love to read author blogs–I learn so much from the successes and mistakes of others. Thanks for letting me take so much space to comment, Steve!

    • Thanks for the input :) I see your comments as being either an extension of the points I have striven to make, or corrections/amendments that are essentially a result of greater experience or changes since I was involved in the issue. They are certainly welcome additions to the post! :)

      I’ll always give space to those with an intelligent and helpful contribution to make to >any post I make here :)

      Steve

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